enter image description hereRecently I've worked on updating maps of MPO(Metropolitan Planning Organization) regions that display roads, municipal boundaries, and water ways/bodies, which has involved repairing links by (re)setting the data source with either existing or more recent layer files.

For all of this work so far I've used ArcMap 10.8.2, which create maps as .mxd files. I want to transfer a map document previously saved in ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro 2.8.1, in order to create an updated version of that map document in ArcGIS Pro program.

This is what has happened in ArcGIS Pro: I connect the folder, choose the desired map, but when attempt to drag it in or double-click it to open the document, nothing happens. When I right-click a menu appears with an option to "Import and open". I click that and the document with all the layers in the contents panel show up, and it opens into a Layout. I am able to go into each layers properties and repair/update the broken links, but the select-by-location/attribute tool didn't work when trying to isolate and then export as new layer certain road function types(Interstate, Major Collector, etc), for example.

Is there a way to import/convert .mxd files into ArcGIS Pro, so they end up in a Map frame/template and not in Layout, (or even move them to a Map frame after the fact)?

Basically it seems that some of the functions usually available when in a regular map window, don't translate to when working in a Layout window, which interestingly do translate while in ArcMap 10.8.2.

  • Perhaps the pic doesn't help with answering this, but it seemed a good idea to share what the program presents me.
    – Lufe
    Jul 21, 2022 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


You have included multiple questions, when you should be including only one question in each post. But I will attempt to answer what I think is your primary issue.

In ArcGIS Pro, you don't interact with map/layer features at all while in a layout view (eg, to select features). You need to switch to a map view to do that (or to use the attributes table).

There are at least three ways to switch to a map view (instead of a layout view):

  • Expand the 'Maps' item in the Catalog then double-click one of the maps there (there will usually just be one, but there could be more)
  • In a layout view's table of contents, right-click on the Map Frame item and select 'Open'
  • In a layout view's table of contents, right-click on the Map Frame item and select 'Activate'. This option will not actually open a separate map view, but will make the layout view temporarily behave like a map view, greying out all the other layout items. Use the 'Layout' link at the top to de-activate the map view and return to a normal layout view.

(Note that all of the above is entirely unrelated to importing .mxd ArcMap documents. However, when I want to import an ArcMap document, I usually use the 'Import Map' button on the 'Insert' tab of an open ArcGIS Pro project.)

  • The steps you shared as bullet points worked for transferring it to a Map frame.
    – Lufe
    Jul 22, 2022 at 15:24
  • ...but for me Arc Pro still put the map in a Layout when I used the 'Import Map' button. Does that maybe have to do with which frame the map is in when it gets imported? Most of the maps I've worked on in ArcMap stay in the Layout frame when I update and subsequently save +close them.
    – Lufe
    Jul 22, 2022 at 16:04
  • That’s expected. During import, it will generate a layout based on the ArcMap layout. However you can delete the layout if you wish, and just work with the map. Or use the map view and ignore the layout view, if you wish. Jul 22, 2022 at 22:00
  • 1
    …deleting the layout won’t delete the map. You could also configure another layout’s map frame to use the imported map (eg, if you already have a layout you’d prefer to use). Jul 22, 2022 at 23:05

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